Having heard the diagnosis of cancer, both the patient and his family and close ones start to panic, however, everyone should be aware that skin cancer is not a sentence at all. At least, because of the fact, that neoplasms do not appear inside the body, but on the exterior of the skin. Accordingly, most often the patient himself can notice changes in skin even with the naked eye.
It is important to know that skin cancer can be defeated if it is detected at an early stage and the patient timely gets qualified medical help. Another important condition during the fight against a terrible but vincible ailment is self-education. Knowledge is power, and when armed with information, it is much easier for a patient to overcome the disease. So, here is a list of what each of us should know about skin cancer?
Any kind of malignant tumor on the surface of human skin is usually called skin cancer, while not excluding the mucous membranes, retina, nails, etc.
- The mentioned disease affects the female population more often. However, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, some types of skin cancer have a more aggressive course in men than in women.
- Also, in 70% of cases, the disease begins to develop at an old age.
- Residents of southern countries are more susceptible to this type of cancer. Primarily, this is linked to the level of awareness, the promotion of regular medical examinations and timely diagnosis, and of course the advanced treatment methods that are practiced abroad.
- Skin cancer often occurs on the left side of the body or face. Medical scientists can not yet find an explanation for this circumstance.
Symptoms and signs of skin cancer
Unlike some other types of cancer, which at the early stages develop without particular symptoms, skin cancer is usually easy to notice with the naked eye at the very beginning of its development.
External symptoms of skin cancer include:
- mole that changed shape or color;
- wound or ulcer that does not heal for a long time;
- spot gradually increasing in size.
- decreased appetite;
- chronic tiredness and malaise;
- Rapid weight loss;
- Increase in body temperature without reason.
However, a visit to a dermatologist should not be postponed also in case if any damage to the skin is obviously progressing. The appearance of pain, itching, redness, resizing, bleeding, or peeling are often the first signs of skin cancer that need immediate medical attention. And even in case of absence of painful or unpleasant feelings, monitoring the skin and its changes is the best prevention of skin cancer. It should be noted that the symptoms and signs of skin cancer may vary, depending on the pathology type, prognosis may differ as well.
Causes of Skin Cancer
Oncology experts identify a number of causes and risk factors that play a significant role in the onset and development of skin cancer.
- Chemotherapy and radiation therapy;
- Prolonged contact with carcinogens (soot, oil, coal tar, fuel oil, etc.);
- Excessive sun exposure;
- Frequent use of a solarium;
- Outdoor work;
- Lack of personal hygiene;
- Lesions and epidermal wounds;
- Weak immunity;
- Lupus erythematosus;
- Old age (above 50)
- Genetic predisposition;
- Racial characteristics.
Doctors also identify precancerous skin conditions, including:
- Pigmented nevi (moles) on areas of the skin that is most prone to injury and friction;
- Skin papilloma;
- Keratoma, cutaneous horn, Keratoacanthoma;
- Keyr’s disease – tumoral defeat that affects a head of a penis;
- Bowen's disease - a superficial squamous pathological lesion or lesions with epidermal metaplasia;
- Xeroderma Pigmentosum;
- Cutaneous tuberculosis.
Types of skin cancer
There are several main types of skin cancer and many precancerous conditions, which, in the absence of timely treatment, can develop into malignant tumors.
The most common types of skin cancer include:
- Squamous cell skin cancer.
is diagnosed in 65-70% of cases. It is a surface nodule or papule that arises from atypical epidermal cells. Initially, such a neoplasm can be confused with a mole that slowly covers an increasingly large surface of the skin. Such a tumor rarely gives metastases, but even a local increase causes skin destruction. Basal cell carcinoma is mostly localized on the face, and therefore most patients manage to consult a doctor at the early stages, thereby providing themselves with a positive treatment prognosis. Melanoma
is another type of skin cancer that occurs in 20% of all cases. This is a more dangerous type of cancer that feeds on melanocytes in the tissues of the epidermis. A tumor may occur not only on the skin, but also on the mucous membranes, for example, in the oral cavity, on the retina, in the vagina, in the nose, etc., which excludes or complicates surgical treatment. Melanoma very quickly metastasizes into other tissues and lymph nodes, and therefore late diagnosis significantly worsens the prognosis of cure. Nevertheless, even with this outcome, the patient can be offered treatment options that can prolong life and improve its quality. Squamous cell skin cancer or the so-called squamous cell carcinoma
is considered the most aggressive type of skin cancer, with a high probability of rapid metastasis (in 85% of cases) to regional and distant tissues. In the initial stages, squamous cell skin cancer resembles a wart or fungus. Unfortunately, at the later stages, even in the case of a full course of treatment, squamous cell skin cancer is prone to relapse and often leads to death.
Skin cancer diagnosis at the CMC Hospital
According to statistics, even the most aggressive types of cancer can be completely defeated if they are diagnosed in a timely manner and treated correctly.
In case of referring to the Caucasian Medical Center, patients undergo a thorough diagnostics using the latest equipment. Qualified doctors of the hospital - experts in the field of oncology, not only carry out thorough examination of patients, but also help them in making the right decisions, as without the right attitude of the patient, awareness of his illness and physician’s support, it is impossible to defeat the disease.
The chain of Evex Hospitals is a leader in the Caucasus region in providing high-quality medical services, and this leadership is ensured not only by qualified doctors but with the latest equipment, diagnostic and treatment methodologies.
At Evex Hospitals we use the following diagnostic methods:
- Skiascopy - examination of pigmentary skin patches;
- Dermatoscopy - the use of an optical device with the function of multiple magnification in order to study skin neoplasms;
- Biopsy - taking material from a regional lymph node in order to determine the nature of the pathology;
- Cytological analysis - a microscopic examination aimed at identifying pathological cells taken from the surface of neoplasms;
- Histological analysis - a laboratory examination of tissues of a pathological neoplasm in order to determine the type of cancer, stage and its sensitivity to drugs;
- Ultrasound Examination - makes it possible to assess the exact location of the malignant tumor, to establish the presence of visualized metastases within the internal organs;
- Computed or magnetic resonance imaging and radiography make it possible to identify the presence of other foci and assess the level of spreading process.
Skin cancer treatment
Despite the widespread belief, cancer is not a death verdict. Even with the growth of cancer cases, mortality linked to this disease is reduced, thanks to new technologies and treatment methods. Modern medicine is not only able to increase life expectancy but in some cases to ensure complete recovery and relapse exclusion.
Having received a diagnosis of skin cancer, many patients begin to seek treatment options abroad, and often this solution saves lives.
The oncology department of Evex Hospitals practices the following types of skin cancer treatment:
Surgical treatment – Surgical treatment refers to the excision of a pathological neoplasm. This method is used at the initial stages of the disease in case if the tumor is located opportunely. At the same time, in addition to removing the tumor itself, the doctor “cleanses” the surrounding tissue as well. This procedure involves cauterization (electrocoagulation) and curettage of the affected area. When the tumor is localized in prominent areas of the skin, for example on the face, gentle surgical methods are used, for example cryodestruction. During cryodestruction the neoplasm is frozen with liquid nitrogen and cut off without injuring the surrounding tissue. However, with particularly aggressive types of tumors, this method is not recommended, since there is a high probability of leaving pathological cells, and therefore a relapse of the disease. Our clinic also practices so-called Mohs surgery, during which skin cancer is removed in layers, and each individual layer is sent for laboratory examination. The operation is performed under a microscope, the surgeon completes the process if cytology shows the absence of pathological cells in the given layer of the skin. Drug therapy or chemotherapy
is used both as an adjuvant after surgery, and as an independent method of treatment. Both local and general chemotherapy are possible. The latter is resorted to in the presence of distant metastases or the impossibility of local exposure due to the inaccessibility of the tumor. Laser therapy
refers to the excision of the tumor with a laser. Cryotherapy
- the destruction of pathological cells using frozen liquid nitrogen. The advantage of this method is the aesthetic result; however, it is not applicable to all types of skin cancer. Radiation therapy, i.e. radiotherapy,
is widely used for the treatment of tumors located in inaccessible areas of the face and body, as well as on the head and mucous membranes. Radiotherapy is often prescribed in addition to surgery. Photodynamic therapy -
This type of exposure involves the destruction of cancer cells by photosensitizing drugs in combination with laser removal of the affected layers. This method of therapy is relatively new but modern doctors are increasingly beginning to use it in their practice. Immune or targeted therapy
- when choosing this approach, doctors are guided by the principle of ensuring “quality of life”. There are frequent cases when the patient’s organism cannot withstand aggressive therapy, so the disease has to be treated with a "targeting" method. When choosing this approach, our doctors take into consideration the genetic characteristics of the patient.
We live in times of environmental disasters, the prosperity of the chemical industry, complete chaos in the food industry and sometimes awkward social requirements for appearance, but amid the messy course of life, our health and the health of our loved ones should be protected, as the most precious thing we have. What is necessary for this? Awareness, a competent approach and a desire to live and enjoy life. Do not delay the visit to a doctor for tomorrow. Be healthy today.